Continental, a German multinational automotive parts manufacturing company, is revolutionising electric vehicle (EV) charging. Together with startup, Volterio, Continental’s development and production service provider, Continental Engineering Services (CES), is developing an intelligent charging robot that will make ‘filling-up’ with electricity much easier and more convenient in the future.
The partnership will see Volterio develop the first near-production systems for the jointly designed charging robot by mid-2022. With CES meeting all necessary certification criteria of the automotive industry, it will then also develop the system to production maturity and ultimately take over the production of the charging robot. Volume production of the system is planned for 2024 and will take place in Germany.
The fully automatic charging solution comprises two components which include one unit in the underbody of the vehicle and another on the garage floor. As soon as the car is parked, the two components connect automatically via a smart system, which among other options is controlled via ultra-broadband – a radio-based communication technology for short-range data transmission.
A practical advantage of this is that the car does not have to be parked accurately. The charging robot corrects for deviation of up to 30 centimetres from the ideal parking position.
In addition, it is irrelevant what angle a vehicle is positioned in relation to the floor unit. The conical design of the physical connector between the floor and vehicle unit permits any alignment and orientation between the units.
Dr Christoph Falk-Gierlinger, CES managing director, said: “Our charging robot is a real step in the evolution of making electric mobility more convenient and suitable for everyday use. With Volterio, we have the ideal partner for developing an efficient and simple solution for charging electric vehicles.
“Through this cooperation, we are combining the creativity and flexibility of a young start-up with the development experience and automotive expertise of Continental Engineering Services.”
Both companies had previously researched similar charging robot solutions at the same time and independently. In the new cooperation, both partners are complementing each other, so that a solution that is suitable for everyday electric mobility can be quickly developed and made available to customers.
Christian Flechl, Volterio managing director, said: “With Continental, we have the perfect partner at our side to industrialise our automated charging technology and achieve success in a growing market. Continental has the necessary production capacity and scaling capabilities.”
The advantage of this new technology is that the energy flows through a physical connection, just as it does in conventional charging stations. Unlike wireless inductive charging via a magnetic field, this means that hardly any energy is lost when filling up with the charging robot. This makes this solution particularly sustainable and efficient.
This system is also convenient thanks to the technology. Unlike charging stations, users no longer have to worry about any aspect of charging, such as handling heavy, potentially contaminated or rain-soaked charging cables in confined garages. The whole charging process works completely automatically.
The innovative charging solution is initially provided for use in private households with a suitable rating of 22kW alternating current. The solution is a retrofit, so it can be retrofitted in existing model variants of vehicles.
In a second step, a fast charging solution for public areas that can be retracted into the ground will be developed, for example, in parking garages, filling stations or factory areas with a charging capacity of more than 50kW direct current. This also includes corresponding variants, for example, for fleet management of commercial vehicles.